An intra-institutional cultural cooperative? A central warehouse? It sounds like a utopia. However, if we were to ignore the first signs of resistance and thought about it on a more sustainable scale – that of a housing estate, district or a whole city – the idea begins to sound more interesting and possibly quite real. The examples of cooperative and co-sharing initiatives provided in this guide show that creating a common resource, also with institutional entities, is possible. Operating models may vary. Institutions may open their storage facilities to the needs of local artists. Institutions of a similar type (museums, theatres, cinemas, etc.) may attempt to create an exchange and cooperation network associated with circulating resources. ‘Storage’ does not necessarily have to mean a physical space; it may be manifested in a virtual space, as the example of Spółdzielnia Kultury Culture Cooperative from Warsaw demonstrates. There are many possibilities. It is important for the cultural sector to come together against wasting resources and create systems for cooperating over sharing goods. Then, single-use architecture may get a chance to become multiple-use architecture, unnecessary furniture may be put into circulation and unused equipment hidden in the warehouse behind cardboard boxes for years may finally be used again.
An extended practice of co-sharing resources would not only be a relief for the environment, an ethical shift towards things, but also an incentive to question the current ownership-based model of culture. It is worth asking: why own when you can borrow? Why throw away when you can give it to someone else? Why keep when you can circulate? Looking at the practices of others that have been proven to be effective makes thinking in this direction even more attractive.
> Get inspired: Materials for the Arts is a partnership programme of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Departments of Sanitation and of Education, one of the largest creative reuse centres in the US. It collects a wide range of materials, making them available to local companies, communities, fashion houses, TV productions, corporations for reusing. Resources which include anything and everything from rugs to toothbrushes are made available free of charge to creatives, schools, civic organisations, city agencies. MfA promotes the idea of reuse, releasing into circulation hundreds of tonnes of materials every year.